Oh no, not again!
Scorecard | Action in Images | Lost early advantage
BANGALORE: Nine wickets and 320 runs made for an interesting spectacle as New Zealand and India ended Saturday on equal footing in the second Test at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here.
India, served by contrasting knocks from their young guard, Kohli (93*) and Suresh Raina (55), and from skipper MS Dhoni (46*) sat assuredly on 283 for five at close of play, trailing by 82 after a troublesome start, this second Test proving way more of a contest than the lop-sided butchery that was the first.
New Zealand wouldn't exactly be displeased with the second day's returns. They added a quick little something to be all out for 365 in the morning and then cleaned up India's top four for 80 going into lunch.
India fought back after resumption - as they had to, after a weekend packed house had been frozen into muteness by Sachin Tendulkar's second clean bowled of the series - and attacked first with a 99-run fifth-wicket stand between Kohli and Raina, and then through an unbroken alliance of 104 between Kohli and Dhoni.
Kohli was the cornerstone of either association. He came in at 67 for three at Sehwag's dismissal and held one end up through the most of his stay. The Delhi batsman let Raina go for his shots and later allowed Dhoni to accelerate, his focus firmly on staying put in the middle. Kohli was assured in defence and nimble in footwork. He hoicked off-spinner Jeetan Patel for six, and drove Boult and Bracewell straight down the ground for boundaries.
Kohli brought up his second fifty of the series off 100 balls with a boundary stolen from Southee, and was remarkably confident against both Boult and Bracewell - picking nine of his 12 fours off the two Kiwi seamers.
Dhoni joined Kohli after Raina's exit, and runs positively flowed after that. The Indian captain targeted Patel for special treatment and his blurry knock, which contained five fours and two sixes, was interspersed with the usual ugliness. Still, it got the job done, as India ate into the deficit rapidly to end the day 82 runs behind.
New Zealand were earlier well on top as they claimed wickets each time play resumed. Immediately after lunch they had sent back Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar, and soon after tea, Raina was handed his walking papers when he dabbed a tame catch down the leg-side after a deserving half-century.
The southpaw by then had initiated India's revival. His Test credentials under scrutiny, and the side having suffered a double blow, Raina asserted himself off the front foot from the get go. He cracked three boundaries off Bracewell and stepped out to loft Patel for six. The southpaw was handed a reprieve on 48, when he was stumped off a Patel no-ball. Raina pottered about for 14 more balls to reach his seventh Test fifty and saw his team to lunch at 162-4, with Kohli a picture of solidity at the other end.
Trouble in paradise
This expectedly rousing middle order performance on a home track was warranted by a torrid start that Tim Southee meted out to India. Replacing 'The Phantom' Chris Martin in the eleven, Southee took out Gautam Gambhir and Cheteshwar Pujara early on.
Sehwag (43) survived a close leg before call on the first ball of Southee he faced, but soon started to launch into the off-side when anything marginally wide was offered. The Najafgarh native lived literally on the edge, but it was Gautam Gambhir who was handed the first reprieve. Southee set up the left-hander with a persistent off-stump line - shaping the ball away - before getting one to straighten. Gambhir shouldered arms, only to watch in horror as the delivery glanced the off bail, continuing his wretched run in Tests.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who had demonstrated ably the use of the hook in the previous match, fell to that shot this time. Southee bounced him, Pujara miscued, and Boult ran from fine leg to settle down under the ball. India thus entered lunch on an ambiguous 63 for two, Sehwag on a typically chancy 39, Tendulkar ever-watchful on 4.
After supper was partaken of, it was the turn of Doug Bracewell's righ art seamers, which in the span of three well-fed overs accounted for the two talismans Sehwag and Tendulkar, stranding India on 80-4. Bracewell had homed in on leg-stump to Sehwag all day, and when he finally got one to straighten, the opener struck it into the hands of Daniel Flynn at short mid-wicket.
Tendulkar was subdued. He claimed his first boundary with a dab to fine-leg, and was then gifted four overthrows off Boult. When Bracewell came on, the maestro completed a searing straight drive - his 2000th Test boundary. But on the next ball, India's shining light was bowled through the gate, right between bat and pad, the second time in as many innings against the Kiwis.
This cleared the scene for the younger ones to start making an impact. They did, no matter against a no-frills attack and in conditions that reeked of success and familiarity.
Ojha claims five
Earlier, New Zealand resumed on 328 for six and were all out in a shade under 9 overs as Pragyan Ojha picked up five for 99. The left-arm spinner had to wait a bit for his landmark. Zaheer Khan drew first blood when Kruger van Wyk edged to a vigilant Raina at second slip after adding just 8 to his overnight 63, leaving New Zealand seven down.
Bracewell (43) was the next to go, run out backing up, as Southee crashed one back and the ball grazed Zaheer's fingers on it's way into the non-striker's stumps.
Patel was a two-ball presence in the middle, before he steered Umesh Yadav to third man. Southee, 'The Phantom' Chris Martin's replacement, massacred a six off Yadav, but became Ojha's fifth victim of the innings when he was trapped in front. The Kiwis concluded on 365 - giving their seamers something to work with under a cloud cover.